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Animal Info - Hispid Hare

(Other Names: 阿薩密兔, アラゲウサギ, Assam or Bristly Rabbit, Borstenkaninchen, Bristly or Harsh-furred Hare, Conejo de Assam, Lapin de l'Assam, Lebre do Nepal)

Caprolagus hispidus

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Picture: Hispid Hare (36 Kb JPEG)

The hispid hare is also called the "bristly rabbit" because it has coarse, dark brown hair.  It's ears are short, and its back legs are not much larger than the front legs.  It weighs about 2.5 kg (5.5 lb). It prefers tall grass-scrub savanna, in flat, well-drained and thinly forested country. It is not gregarious, but sometimes lives in pairs. Its diet consists mainly of bark, shoots and roots of grasses, including thatch species, and occasionally crops.

The hispid hare was formerly found from Uttar Pradesh to Assam (India) along the Himalayan foothills, and south to Dacca in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). In 1964, it was feared by some to be extinct, or nearly so, but by 1966 it was thought still to exist in a few isolated parts of its range along the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. In 1990 the areas from which it had been recently recorded included Assam, northwest Bengal, northwest Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and the terai area of southern and southwest Nepal.

The main reasons for its decline include habitat loss, mainly for cultivation, forestry, grazing and the burning of thatch; human settlement; hunting for food and to protect crops; and predation by dogs. In addition, human-induced changes in seasonal flooding have favored the later stages of vegetation succession which the hispid hare does not prefer.


Tidbits

*** The hispid hare is one of the world's rarest mammals.

*** The hispid hare is actually a rabbit (see next item).

*** Rabbits (belonging to many different genera) vs. Hares (all in the genus Lepus): The major differences between rabbits and hares include: 1.) their methods in avoiding predators (rabbits hide in dense vegetation or burrows; hares have longer legs and try to outrun predators), and 2.) the characteristics of their young at birth (newborn rabbits ("kittens") are born naked and with their eyes closed; newborn hares ("leverets") are better developed - their eyes are open and they can move around with some degree of coordination) (Macdonald 2001).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Hispid Hare Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in India and Nepal. May be extinct in Bangladesh. (IUCN 2004)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The hispid hare was formerly found from Uttar Pradesh to Assam (India) along the Himalayan foothills, and south to Dacca in East Pakistan. In 1911, it was noted as being not uncommon in parts of Assam. In 1964, it was feared by some to be extinct, or nearly so, but by 1966 it was thought still to exist in a few isolated parts of its range along the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. It was seen again in the early 1970's, and in 1984 a field survey showed that relict populations of hispid hare survived in at least four separate areas of the terai region of southwest Nepal and northeast Uttar Pradesh and in two separate areas in the Bengal Duars. By 1990 it was known to be found in 12 populations which were scattered across the historic ranges.  In 1990 the areas from which it had been recently recorded included  Assam, northwest Bengal, northwest Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, (all in India) and the terai area of southern and southwest Nepal.

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The main reasons for its decline include habitat loss, mainly for cultivation, forestry, grazing and the burning of thatch; human settlement; hunting for food and to protect crops; and predation by dogs. In addition, human-induced changes in seasonal flooding have favored the later stages of vegetation succession which the hispid hare does not prefer.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The hispid hare weighs 2 - 2.5 kg (4.5 - 5.5 lb) and its length is 38 - 50 cm (15 - 20").

Habitat:

The hispid hare prefers tall grass-scrub savanna, in flat, well-drained and thinly forested country. It is dependent on the early successional riverine vegetation communities, typically comprising dense tall grasses, commonly referred to as elephant grass or thatchland, that grow to a height of over 3 m (10') during the monsoon. During the first part of the year, when the grassland and associated forest are set on fire, the hare moves to forested foothills, or moves to cultivated fields and shelters on the embankments of dried up streams. When the thatch becomes too waterlogged during the height of the monsoon, it moves into the forested areas of the foothills.

The hispid hare is one of the species that live in both the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.) and the Terai-Duar Savannas & Grasslands Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Birth Season:

Young are usually caught from January to March.

Birth Season:

Preliminary estimates are that the litter size is 2 - 5, with possibly 2 or 9 litters per year (Burnie & Wilson 2001)

Diet:

The hispid hare's diet consists mainly of bark, shoots and roots of grasses, including thatch species, and occasionally crops.

Behavior:

The hispid hare does not construct burrows but rather takes shelter in surface vegetation or burrows made by other animals.  It is described as "slow-moving" by people living in the area where it is found.

Social Organization:

It is not gregarious, but it sometimes lives in male-female pairs.

Density and Range:

Home range: Mean of 2800 sq m (0.7 acres) for females and 8200 sq m (2 acres) for males.


References

Burnie & Wilson 2001, Burton & Pearson 1987, Chapman & Flux 1990, Cons. Intl., C.P.R. Env. Ed. Ctr., Curry-Lindahl 1972, Gee 1964, IUCN 1967, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Kavitha 2001, Macdonald 1984, Macdonald 2001, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Nowak 1999, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1986b, Phillip & Fisher 1970


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Last modified: January 2, 2005;

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